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Fra. Marcelino Rapayla Jr.

REFLECTION ON ENCYCLICAL LETTER OF ST. JOHN PAUL II


FIDES ET RATIO

KNOW YOURSELF

The man of God welcomes the light that searches his deeds and finds them true.
Through reflection, I found this statement relevant in understanding the subject better. In doing
so, above statement would aid me reflecting the dictum of examining oneself. In this matter,
knowing oneself will lead man to the path of happiness and meaning of his existence. I believe
that self-awareness is the key for self-improvement. It's the starting point for self-mastery and
fulfilment. It allows you to recognise your deepest values, convictions, fears and joys so you can
show up in an existing happiness and choice to be more. It is an individual journey, a narrow
road that you have to choose to travel daily. On one hand, man as a rational being is limited.
(Francisco, 1995) This limitation would not mean an end but an inspiration to pursue of
searching the truth. That is why human beings would live confidently as human if their proper
knowledge of what it is to be truly human comes into light. On the other hand, the basic theme of
the encyclical Fides et Ratio which is beautifully expressed in its opening lines with a metaphor
depicting faith and reason as two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of
truth (St. John Paul II, 1998). By this, says the Holy Pontiff, the human heart fulfils its God-
given nature that is desire to know the truth (Ibid.). The encyclical letter adopts the basic issues
about faith and reason, philosophy and theology, and other important matters that relate to mans
ultimate search for truth.

I recalled my ancient philosophy studies because the letter of the Holy Father begins with
an introduction, entitled the Socratic injunction, know yourself, (St. John Paul II, 1998) and his
most famous dictum is an unexamined life is not worth living (Ahbel-Rappe & Kamtekar,
2006) which explains that man should have thought the examination of ones values so
necessary. On the role of philosophy, it is in asking and answering questions concerning the
meaning of human existence, which also it states that the church with regards to philosophy as
the way to come to know fundamental truths about human life (St. John Paul II, 1998) and at
the same time as an indispensable help for a deep understanding of faith and for communicating
the truth of the Gospel to those who do not yet know it (Ibid.). The Church reaffirms the need to
reflect upon truth because my task and your task are to proclaim the truth to all. As also student
of theology whos my duty is to explore the different aspects of truth and as lover of wisdom, I
may take the sure path leading to it. To know and to know truly requires that I simultaneously
bring myself into correspondence with the truth that I discover; a mind under the sway of any
kind of bias will not be able to grasp it and that could limit human being to fully understand the
totality of human individual. And so, I presume that you are probably aware of this, but by
calling ourselves truth seekers, you are calling into question some of the most basic and
Fra. Marcelino Rapayla Jr.

entrenched assertions in our time. Philosophy has the great responsibility of forming thought
and culture; and now it must strive resolutely to recover its original vocation. (St. John Paul II,
1998) This is the reason why the Holy Father wrote the letter because he has felt both the need
and the duty to address this theme so that, on the threshold of the third millennium of the
Christian era, humanity may come to a clearer sense of the great resources with which it has been
endowed and may commit itself with renewed courage to implement the plan of salvation of
which its history is part. Furthermore, the truth is known through a combination of faith and
reason. The absence of either one will diminish man's ability to know himself, the world and
God (Ibid, n. 16). Human reason seeks the truth, but the ultimate truth about the meaning of life
cannot be found by reason alone (Ibid, n. 42). The Pope first explains the proper roles of faith
and reason on man's path to truth. He then explains how they complement and support one
another with complete compatibility. The Church received the ultimate truth about human life as
a gift of love from God the Father in the revelation of Jesus Christ. "God so loved the world that
he sent his only Son" (Jn. 3: 16). Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn. 14: 6). The
true meaning of life, therefore, is a person: Jesus Christ. The truth communicated by Christ is
the absolutely valid source of the meaning of human life (St. John Paul II, 1998; n. 12). Thus,
man of God is happy though his faculty is limited to fathom the ultimate meaning of human
being but by revelation and the grace of faith he could search the ultimate truth and the meaning
of human existence.

To know is to search for truth. Searching the truth is what makes us human. The thirst
for truth is so rooted in the human heart that to be obliged to ignore it would cast our existence
into jeopardy. (St. John Paul II, 1998; n. 29) We seek truth, understanding, and reason in our
faith. The encounter of the Gospel message with the philosophical culture of the ancient world
proved a decisive step in the evangelization of all peoples, and stimulated a fruitful interaction
between faith and reason which has continued down the centuries to our own times showed how
faith and reason each strengthen the other (Pope Francis, 2013). Gaudium et Spes address the
relationship between faith and reason that both branches of learning lead us to God, who is the
source of both.

REFERENCES:

Ahbel-Rappe, S., & Kamtekar, R. (2006). A Companion to Socrates. Australia: Blackwell Publishing.
Francisco, R. B. (1995). Karol Wojtyla's Theory of Participation. Makati, Philippines: ST PAULS PHILIPPINES.
NAB. (1992). New American Bible. USA: Catholic Book Publishing Co.
Pope Francis. (2013). Lumen Fidei. USA: Image.
St. John Paul II. (1998, September 14). Fides et Ratio. Retrieved August 14, 2017, from Encyclical Letters:
http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_14091998_fides-et-
ratio.html